By Evan Smith
Evan Smith, Soloist
With less than two weeks from our departure for Beijing, the University of Washington Wind Ensemble has been working diligently to put the finishing touches on 17 pieces of music in preparation for our concerts abroad. In addition to an extensive array of full-band literature, various members of the ensemble met this past weekend to again rehearse a number of chamber music pieces that will be performed on a concert at Renmin University. Covering almost every section of the ensemble, highlights will include Igor Stravinsky’s Octet, Brett Dietz’s Sharpened Stick for percussion ensemble, as well as selections for brass and wind quintets.
Of course, preparing to move 50+ musicians across the ocean requires more planning than music rehearsals alone; and, many of the graduate students have been hard at work coordinating travel preparations behind the scenes. Indeed, last month, the entire ensemble coordinated applications and sent away their passports for the appropriate travel visas, which arrived en masse back on campus yesterday.
University of Washington Wind Ensemble
Moreover, as we get closer to our departure, I have been assisting with the task of communicating with the airline about transporting our larger musical instruments and equipment. While flutes and clarinets can easily be carried on board, some members of the ensemble are responsible for playing multiple instruments on the tour repertoire. Among others, the band will also be carrying three tubas, a contra-alto clarinet, a contrabassoon, two cases of percussion, two cymbal cases, and a baritone saxophone. While everyone has submitted information on their instruments, those whose instruments will need to be checked separately also had to weigh their cases on my very own bathroom scale from home.
Well, it could be worse…
Overall, our added baggage of instruments (as well as music copies and documents) should weigh about another 600 pounds! Luckily, we are able to borrow our three double-basses and mallet percussion instruments upon our arrival in Beijing.
As I write this, we are just a few hours away from our send-off concert in Meany Hall on the UW campus. We are excited to meet some of our hosts and display the hard work that the ensemble has been putting in over the school year. After tonight’s concert, there will be only one final rehearsal before the ensemble meets at the airport for our journey together!
A versatile saxophonist, Evan Smith holds degrees in saxophone performance from the University of Northern Iowa and James Madison University. Currently a DMA student at the University of Washington, Evan performs over a wide stylistic spectrum, appearing in both classical and jazz settings on a variety of woodwinds. A proponent of new music, Evan is a member of noted Seattle ensemble The Box Is Empty and has commissioned a number of works for saxophone, recently debuting two new pieces for alto saxophone at the World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland. In addition to his performing, Evan is an experienced educator, maintaining an active studio. Before moving to Seattle, he also spent a semester teaching music in Caracas, Venezuela, and taught saxophone, improvisation, and jazz history over three summers for the Celebration Iowa Jazz Band at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.